Kansas City barbecue standard influences Phoenix pitmaster

Posted at 1:50 PM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 14:50:06-05

PHOENIX — Kansas Citians heading to Arizona for Super Bowl LVII don’t have to leave their barbecue taste buds at home.

Inspiration from the city is found in Little Miss BBQ's brisket and beyond.

“Kansas City has a massive influence,” said owner Scott Holmes. “For us, you have KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) competitions where it’s just all over the country, right? So that ends up being the standard for your taste, your tenderness, your appearance.”

Holmes says he and his wife are preparing to open their third location in the Phoenix area.

Their food started as Texas-style since his wife is from the state, and the style was his first exposure to the world of barbecue.

But when he began competing in KCBS-sanctioned contests, he decided he wanted to carry the competition standard into his restaurant.

“It’s a pretty rigid judging system. We judge on three categories: appearance, taste and tenderness,” said Rod Gray, the new CEO of KCBS.

Gray says he's well aware of Little Miss BBQ and the high-quality food they’re creating.

“That is a very, very hard thing to do on a consistent basis,” Gray said of cooking to competition standards on a restaurant scale. “We are the NFL of competition BBQ in that we sanction contests not only all over the country but all over the world."

KSHB 41 caught up with Holmes and his pitmasters while they cooked at the WM Phoenix Open.

“Most of our pit guys, it’s about a year until we have confidence in them,” he said. “We pull everything by feel. It probably takes each guy probably several thousand briskets before they really start to get it."

Holmes' hard work has not gone unnoticed. Gray tells KSHB 41 he remembers meeting Holmes on the competition circuit and is looking forward to trying his food in-person sometime.

“I get all the time, word back that what he’s doing is really amazing food," Gray said.